2018 Teacher Awards

2018 National Winner

Adele Hudson

Aitken College, VIC

Adele Hudson is Head of Science at Aitken College and teaches middle school science, senior chemistry and physics. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Adelaide and a PhD from RMIT, where she also worked in a postdoctoral position. Adele credits her highly rewarding work with high school students in university outreach programs as the reason for her move into teaching.

Drawing on her research background, Adele is passionate about providing students with opportunities to engage in open-ended investigations. She’s found that when students learn through exploration and discovery, it nurtures a love of learning and strengthens skills such as working collaboratively, problem solving, critical thinking, and utilising technology for data collection and communicating ideas.

Adele has worked with the Aitken College science teaching team to ensure students engage in learning tasks that are relevant, based on real world scenarios and develop future work skills. She’s also created a program to inform parents and students of the changes occurring in the world of work, as well as other “pop up” science and maths programs that educate students about STEM careers and develop their project management and communication skills.

One program, EngGirl Ambassadors, was recently awarded a Scale Grant from the WISE Changemakers initiative, because of its potential to increase women in STEM engagement and retention.

Teacher finalists

Annabel Henriques

Presbyterian Ladies' College, VIC

Annabel Henriques has been a general science and biology teacher for more than 35 years, with degrees in science and education from Mumbai University and a Master’s in Science Education from Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. Annabel currently teaches at Presbyterian Ladies College in Victoria. She speaks five languages and has taught in Indian, Arabic, British and American educational systems, deepening her understanding of different cultural backgrounds.

She loves her students and enjoys every minute in the classroom, encouraging every student to make their mark in this world.

The CREST program offers a unique opportunity to awaken students’ curiosity by exploring problems, researching their interests, pushing boundaries and coming up with unique ideas. Multimedia, the internet, sensors, data loggers, iPads and animations provide interactive learning. Students work in mixed ability groups to share information, brainstorm and collaborate as teams.

Underlying Annabel’s work is a passion for sustainability – she assists the Jindi Worabak group working on Indigenous issues and supports the environmental group at her school. In 2015, her IB class raised over $600 for the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, which bought one hectare of land on Salat Island for orangutan conservation. This effort was recognised and published in the quarterly World IB magazine.

Belinda Brannam

Rose Bay High School, TAS

Belinda Brannam has been a teacher for 18 years, including eight-and-a-half years in the United Kingdom. Over that time, she’s taught everything from biology and life sciences to science and mathematics. She now leads the science department and holds a wider leadership role focusing on whole school teaching and learning at Rose Bay High School in Tasmania.

Belinda strongly believes in preparing students for tomorrow’s world and workforce, as it requires both creators of new knowledge and those who can use knowledge creatively. She uses open-ended investigations to develop critical thinking, reasoning, team work and investigative and creative skills that are transferable to all aspects of a student’s life. She believes learning should be authentic, relevant and meaningful. Belinda encourages her students to be active participants in their learning and to take risks in a safe and supportive environment.

As Science Curriculum Leader and Acting Advanced Skills Teacher of Teaching and Learning, Belinda places emphasis on scientific inquiry and human endeavour, developing a growth mindset, 21st century skills and using applied learning contexts to inspire learners about possible futures.

Beyond the science classroom, she coaches and facilitates student inquiry through the STEM Individual Projects for Extension program, which sees student follow a combination of science inquiry and the engineering design process, while maintaining journals or digital blogs and communicating their findings to peers and a wider audience.

Belinda is helping to facilitate a partnership with the University of Tasmania’s School of Science, Engineering and Technology aimed at supporting a pathway to college and beyond for high school students.

Jayde McKenzie

Kalgoorlie Boulder-Community High School, WA

Jayde McKenzie first started teaching in the Western Australian Goldfields in 2014 as a generalist primary teacher. She moved onto secondary science in 2015 and hasn’t looked back.

At university, Jayde studied to be a PE teacher. She loves hands-on learning and being able to facilitate student learning through doing. Jayde believes it is this foundation that led to her focus on students’ total immersion in the topic. For the last two years, Jayde has been developing a program that enables students to be independent learners, where they explore a variety of different open-ended investigations, whilst coaching themselves and their peers through the curriculum.

Jayde strongly believes that students retain information better when they are offered a learning experience rather than being shown or guided through their learning, and that open-ended investigation allows students a real opportunity to absorb researched information, put into practice their own innovative ideas and solve real issues, whether local or global.

Jayde says it’s her role as the Kalgoorlie Science Teacher Network Coordinator that enables her to maintain a high level of professional development in STEM fields. She understands the importance of STEM education and the role it plays in readying our students for the jobs of tomorrow, jobs that will require problem solving, innovation, creative thinking and digital literacy. It’s her belief that STEM education has increasing importance and influence within schools and industries.

Jillian Neyland

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic College, NT

Jillian Neyland started her teaching career in 2004 and has spent eight years teaching science, maths, technology and design to students at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic College in Alice Springs.

She encourages students to connect the dots between science theory and life experience, to be masters of their own learning. Jillian strives to meet the individual learning needs of her students and believes that each young person should have the opportunity to access their scientific studies in an enjoyable yet meaningful way. Most importantly, she hopes to prepare her students for a future where they can confidently engage in scientific and social debate confidently and independently.

Recently, in partnership with a colleague, Jillian took up the challenge offered by her school administration to formally implement a STEM elective subject for years 9 and 10. It was a fast and fantastic learning experience for both the students and teachers involved. What they enjoyed most was having the time and flexibility to explore, discover, tinker, make mistakes, improve and reflect on projects that ranged from drones to hydroponics. The students benefitted from a hands-on inquiry-style approach.

Jillian says that while STEM education is not a new concept, a renewed focus on it has generated many opportunities for teacher professional development.

Jodie Lawson-Santos

Garran Primary School, ACT

Jodie Lawson-Santos is currently teaching at Garran Primary School in Canberra. She believes that her purpose is to enable access and innovative opportunities for students, colleagues, future teachers, the wider science community and society at large.

She aims to provide students with opportunities to be creative and to actively investigate, and to produce learners and educators who can question, critically analyse and communicate ideas.

To Jodie, the acronym STEM refers not to stand-alone subjects, but rather, a way of thinking. It enables learners to participate in student-led, rigorous, relevant inquiry investigations, to solve real-life current and future problems.

She believes STEM education is essential for future generations as future jobs will require problem solving skills, innovative and creative thinking and digital skills. Future generations will also need to learn how to think critically and flexibly in order to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

As an educator, Jodie sees her core job as improving student outcomes. She does that by rigorously integrating STEM thinking and necessary 21st century skills such as critical thinking, ethical decision making, creative problem solving, effective communication and negotiation in collaborative work, into teaching and learning every day.

Louise Edwards

Woodridge State High School, QLD

Louise Edwards is a science teacher at Woodridge State High School and has been in education since 2010. Working in both private and state education, she knows all students need to be inspired and engaged to develop their passions and talents.

One example of how she’s done this is through working with students from a community severely impacted by the 2011 Queensland floods. Louise and her students assessed the river quality and community knowledge to develop projects to build positive connections with the river. There were community bird watching events, BBQ breakfasts, tree planting days, art competitions and education campaigns, concluding with a group of 12 students presenting their results at the International River Symposium in Canberra.

Louise’s vision is to build confident and science literate citizens who will actively participate in society. Young people are smart, full of ideas and possibilities. She sees a teacher’s challenge as ensuring classrooms are engaging, positive and agile learning environments that will equip students with skills for the future.

Louise believes STEM professionals have transformed every aspect of our modern lives and that this variety is a great way to engage students. She’s committed to developing her expertise and teaching skills by an approach that focuses on tasks, activities, teaching and learning that have the greatest impact.

Mitchell Leggo

Epping Boys High School, NSW

Mitchell Leggo says the most important and challenging aspect of a productive classroom is engaged students. Finding the spark that catches the interest of each student is a teacher’s Everest and it is from this sense of adventure and the unknown that he approaches teaching.

Mitchell has taught biology at a school for girls, a co-educational selective school, and now at Epping Boys High School. This range of schools has provided him with a rich perspective on students’ attitudes toward learning and their common characteristic – a wiliness to ask questions, be they of nature, authority or the world around them. He says the key is to teach through questions to provide students with the skills to answer the questions of the world themselves. To arm them to make informed opinions and serve as effective members of an ever-changing society.

Mitchell believes a cross-curricular approach to teaching and learning promotes an authentic approach to problem solving and, by extension, inquiry-based learning. Students are encouraged to draw skills from multiple fields to address the task before them. This empowers them to draw upon their strengths whilst developing their skills in areas of weakness.

He finds the dynamic nature of students, real world challenges and the human moments found through teaching are the most rewarding aspects of the job. A job Mitchell would not change.

Vira Wallis

Mawson Lakes School, SA

Vira Wallis is an experienced teacher at Mawson Lakes School in South Australia. She advocates for all students to actively participate in scientific observation and investigation in their early school years. She believes curiosity and active ‘hands on experiences’ of basic scientific principles provides young students with a foundation for future investigation and deeper learning.

Over the past 16 years, Vira’s work with students has involved developing viable programs, including STEM projects, which promote individual and group understanding of scientific principles. Using questions as a basis for ongoing discussions, investigations and data collection and analysis has been a useful way of extending learning opportunities in her classroom.

Vira believes that being an effective educator means that you are available to continue discussions with students about a topic of interest or observation to extend understanding of concepts. Vira’s focus is on encouraging students to ask the hard questions and not be afraid to work in teams to test ideas and observations. Her school’s STEM projects allow students to come together and work on pertinent problems or ideas from a collective perspective. This allows for a universal approach providing inclusive investigation that utilises diverse talents. Students, siblings, scientists, teachers, mentors, parents and community members are all involved in the communal process of lifelong learning at Mawson Lakes.

Many of Vira’s students are involved in the SASTA Oliphant Science Awards, having achieved outstanding results in the past. The school is also involved in the SA Schools Space Mission, which enabled 13 students to present at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide in 2017. The school’s magnetosphere analysis project was shortlisted for the Schools Space Mission and will be prepared for possible launch on the International Space Station platform later this year.

Award partners